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Biography of Samuel J. Crawford

Samuel J. Crawford was one of the first members of the Kansas State Legislature, by service on the field of battle attained the rank of brigadier-general during the Civil war, and was the third governor of the state. He was one of the history makers of early Kansas, and what he did to influence the early political development of Kansas must be told on other pages. Following is a brief sketch of his personal career. He was born in Lawrence County, Indiana, April 10, 1835, grew up on a farm, attended the graded schools of Bedford, Indiana, and the law school of Cincinnati College. His parents were William and Jane (Merrow) Crawford, who were natives of North Carolina and had moved to Indiana Territory in 1815. His paternal grandparents were James and Mary (Fraser) Crawford, his grandfather having been a Revolutionary soldier. In remote ancestry the Crawfords were Scotch. Samuel J. Crawford arrived in Kansas Territory and began the practice of law at Garnett on March 1, 1859. He had the personal courage, the mental talents and other qualities so essential for leadership in the troubled country of Kansas at that time, and he did not long remain a struggling lawyer in Garnett. In May of the same year of his arrival he attended the Ossawatomie convention and participated in the organization of the republican party in Kansas. In September of the same year he was a delegate to the republican stats convention at Topeka, which placed in nomination state officers under the Wyandotte constitution. Then, in November, 1859, he was elected a member of the first state Legislature,...

Biography of Joseph H. Mercer

If Kansas should be called upon, through some unfortunate circumstance, to lose at this time the services of Hon. Joseph H. Mercer, state live stock commissioner, it would still owe him a debt of gratitude for the great work he has accomplished in the eradication of the evils attending the foot-and-mouth and other diseases injurious to animals in Kansas, in the bringing about of a better understanding between the farmer and the packer, in the arrangement of freight rates, and in the protection of the interests of the farmer, and particularly of the live stock man, in various ways and along numerous lines. Himself a practical farmer and student of live stock conditions, Mr. Mercer thoroughly understands every phase of agricultural work and through this understanding is able to handle the most delicate situations that arise in a position that calls for the utmost finesse, the greatest degree of diplomasy and unceasing application. Joseph H. Mercer, state live stock commissioner of Kansas, and secretary of the Kansas Live Stock Association, was born on a farm near Williamsburg, Noble County, Ohio, September 7, 1864, and is a son of Newlin Mercer and grandson of Jacob Mercer. For generations the family has been engaged in agricultural pursuits, and Newlin Mercer was of the calibre that led to his enlistment in the forces of the North to support the Union during the dark days of the Civil war, in which struggle he served four years. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Alma Jones, was of Welsh ancestry, and bore her husband three children. Her death occurrod in 1866. Left motherless when...

Biography of William F. M. Arny

Kansas has produced no more eceentric, generous or beloved character than William F. M. Arny. Although not a native of the state, he was a son in all that stands for its independence and humanity. He was born in the District of Columbia, March 6, 1813, and after graduating from Bethany College, West Virginia, acted for a time as secretary for Alexander Campbell the famons Disciple preacher. At the age of twenty-eight he was on intimate terms with all of the leading men of the nation, especially with such as Abraham Lincoln and others of force and originality. In 1850 Mr. Arny settled in McLean County, Illinois; was active in the organization of the republican party, and in 1856 was a committeeman in that state appointed to raise money to settle Free State men in Kansas. In that year he made a trip of investigation to the territory, and its condition so appealed to him that in the spring of 1857 he settled in Anderson County. The people of Kansas, who had come thither to stay and build a real commonwealth of equals, accepted William F. M. Arny as a valuable accession to their forces, electing him both to the Leavenworth constitutional convention of 1858 and the House of Representatives of the First State Legislature, which assembled with the outbreak of the Civil war. At that time he was also closing his faithful stewardship of the relief fund and the goods entrusted to him in behalf of the sufferers from the grasshopper plague of 1857. He had been elected a delegate to the Grasehopper Falls convention soon after coming...

Biography of Hon. John Shaw Dawson

On the roll of men who have been prominently identified with the civie affairs of the State of Kansas during the past two decades, the name of Hon. John Shaw Dawson occupies a leading and conspienous place. When he came to this state, in 1887, it was as a country school teacher, but he possessed the ambition and ability necessary to carry him to high position, and it was not long are he became connected with public matters, and, being admitted to the bar in 1898, rose rapidly in his profession and in public confidence. After serving in various positions of trust, in 1914 he was elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court, where he still remains as an associate justice. Judge Dawson was born at Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland, June 10, 1869, a son of James J. and Annie (Shaw) Dawson. His father spent the greater part of his life in railroad work in Great Britain, but in his later years followed merchandising in Scotland and held the position of postmaster in the village where he yet resides. John Shaw Dawson was primarily educated in the public schools, later attanding the Robert Gorden’s College, at Aberdeen, an institution of wide repute as a superior technical school. It was his father’s desire that he should enter the ministry for his life work, but, meeting with opposition from the prospective dominie, he was “permitted” to go to the wilds (as the father supposed) of Illinois, in the United States, where he had many relatives residing. Instead of sickening the boy of the hardships of frontier life and probably making him more...

Biographical Sketch of David E. Ballard

A native of Franklin County, Vermont, David E. Ballard is a leading citizen and a prosperous farmer of Washington, and looks back with still keen interest to the days of nearly sixty years ago, when he assisted in the civil organization of his county and his state. He was born March 20, 1837, of English and Revolutionary ancestors. When he was a boy his father, Appleton Ballard, moved to Morrow County, Ohio, not to cultivate the land, but to provide his family with a home while he fared forth on the high seas of the East. While thus engaged, he was murdered and robbed in the harbor of Halifax, after he had disposed of his cargo. In May, 1857, when he had but just entered his twenty-first year, David E. Ballard located in Brown County, Kansas, and in the following year moved to Washington County, which was then on the point of organization. In fact, he assisted in that work, and was the first county clerk. In 1859 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the first State Legislature (1861), and in the senatorial election was an active partisan of James H. Lane. He joined the ranks of the Second Kansas Infantry in November, 1861, and in the following year was made first lientenant, being mustered out of the service, in February, 1865. He was in the battles of Fort Wayne, Fort Smith, Cane Hill and Prairie Grove. Mr. Ballard was appointed a commissioner to audit the Price raid claims, in 1867, and during the succeeding two years served as an assessor of internal revenue. He was...

Biography of Abraham Ellis

Abraham Ellis, for many years a resident of Miami County, was popularly known as “Bullet-Hole Ellis,” from the fact that for twenty-three years he carried a deep wound, almost in the center of his forehead, in which had originally been buried a bullet fired by the noted raider, William C. Quantrill. His recovery was one of the most remarkable in surgical annals, and the ball which inflicted the wound, as well as the twenty-seven pieces of froutal bone which were picked from his skull at the time, are among the remarkable exhibits displayed in the Army and Navy Medical Museum at Washington, D. C. Mr. Ellis was born in Green County, Ohio, April 22, 1815, and for many years in his earlier manbood was a successful teacher, but his health compelled him to cling to the soil. In September, 1857, he left Ohio and located in Miami County, six miles from the Missouri line. He was therefore in the very hotbed of the Border warfare, and his strong free-soil sentiments and capacity for organization made him a personal friend, a co-worker and a tristed lieutenant of John Brown. In October, 1858, he was elected a member of the Territorial Legislature and in the following December a representative of the lower house of the First State Legislature. At that time Mr. Ellis was county commissioner and superintendent of public instruction, and in 1860 he gave Quantrill a certificate to teach school at Stanton. Soon afterward he was commissioned by his neighbors to go East for aid. When the Civil war broke out he enlisted in Lane’s Brigade and served as...

Biography of Arthur W. Bronson

For the past seventeen years a resident of Topeka, Mr. Bronson has been a considerable factor in the material prosperity of the state, particularly in connection with the agricultural interests. As resident agent for a firm of foreign capitalists, he has been instrumental during his time in handling and distributing over $25,000,000 cash to the land owners and farmers of Kansas and adjoining states, and he is perhaps as well informed as any man in the state on the subject of agricultural credit, land values and farming interests from the financial standpoint. A native of Herkimer County, New York, where he was born June 3, 1855, Arthur W. Bronson is a son of O. W. and Elizabeth (Harter) Bronson. His family have been Americans for many generations, and O. W. Bronson was a carriage manufacturer, a trade which he adopted from his father. O. W. Bronson also owned a farm in New York, and it was in the country that Arthur W. Bronson spent the first twelve years of his life. He attended the public schools, and in 1877 graduated in the civil engineering department of Willston Seminary in Massachusetts. Though prepared for a technical profession, Mr. Bronson never practiced civil engineering, but instead engaged in merchandising at Herkimer, New York, and not finding that business to his liking he came west in 1884, and for three years was inspector with the Lombard Investment Company. He then became resident agent for Close Brothers & Company, who were English capitalists representing the Mortgage and Debenture Company. For nine years Mr. Bronson lived in Sioux City, Iowa, then spent two years...

Biography of George H. Keller

The name of George H. Keller, one of the founders of Leavenworth, stands among old-time residents for all that is brave and generous and stable and whole-souled, in the most trying times of the territory and the state. As John Speer once said: “His name was a synonym for honesty, integrity and patriotism; his house in Leavenworth illustrated the proverbial hospitality of the ‘Old Kentucky Home.'” “Uncle” George Keller was born in that state in February, 1801; his wife, a Van Dyke, was also a native of Kentucky, and both were descended from Holland Dutch stock. Soon after his marriage the couple migrated to a timbered farm near Terre Haute, Indiana, where he raised live stock and conducted a large inn on the National Road. In 1835 they moved to Platte County, Missouri, and for fifteen years Mr. Keller engaged in farming and manufacturing, when he disposed of all his interests, equipped a large train with merchandise and started for Sonoma Valley and the gold fields of California. He there founded the Town of Petaluma, now a prosperous city of several thousand people. In 1852 he located at Weston, Kansas, resumed farming, and was thus engaged until the spring of 1854, when, with other citizens of Weston, he founded the Town of Leavenworth. In the fall of that year, after completing the Leavenworth Hotel, the third building constructed in the new town, he moved his family thither. Selling his property in 1855, he built the famous Mansion House, corner Fifth and Shawnee streets, which he conducted until its sale in 1857. There John Sherman and other members of the...

Biographical Sketch of Napoleon Bonaparte Blanton

Napoleon Bonaparte Blanton was born in Missouri about 1830, and in a letter written to Charles H. Dickson, several years before his death, thus explains the origin of his impressive name: “I was first named James by my grandfather on my mother’s side. My father was of French descent and was a friend of Napoleon, but my grandfather hated him. After my father and my grandfather had quarreled about Napoleon, my father changed my name to that of the great general.” In September, 1854, Mr. Blanton moved from Jackson County, Missouri, and settled on the Wakarusa. He left that locality in 1857 and became one of the members of the Humboldt Town Site Company. In the second year of the Civil war he was mustered into the Union service as captain of a company in the Kansas Infantry, but resigned in the following year. He had already served as a representative from Allen County in the First State Legislature; was instrumental in causing the land office to be moved from Mapleton to Humboldt in September, 1861, and was re elected to the State House of Representatives in 1868. He spent the last years of his life at Sulphur, Oklahoma, and died at Wichita, Kansas, where one of his married daughters resided, April 30, 1913, from injuries received in an automobile...

Biography of Charles G. Blakely

Charles G. Blakely, whose attainments as a business man have made his name familiar not only in his home City of Topeka but in many parts of the state, has been a resident of Kansas since the fall of 1883, and his first experience here was as teacher in Brown County. His is the interesting story of a boy born and reared in the mountainens district of Eastern Kentucky, where people lived on the plane of the simplest existence but not always of the highest ideals. There, in his early youth, came a stimulus to his ambition and hope which raised him out of his circumstances, and by self-help he struggled upward on the road of aspiration and finally made himself a place among the world’s influential workers. In the early days of Kentucky about the time Daniel Boone made history from the “dark and bloody ground,” members of the Blakely and Brown families from North Carolina and Virginia respectively settled within the borders of that commonwealth, and aided in reclaiming it from the domain of the wilderness, fought wild beasts and wild Indians, and for several generations lived peacefully and contentedly in the mountainous districts of the state. Many years later John Chestnut Blakely, a native of the mountains of Laurel County and Sarah Brown of the Bluegrass region, met and married, and they were the parents of Charles G. Blakely. The latter was born on a small mountain farm in Laurel County, Kentucky, September 4, 1853. Until his early manhood his knowledge extended only a short distance beyond the immediate neighborhood in which he was born. He...
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